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In recent years, the police procedural has become one television's most popular genres. Every season, new police procedurals crop up, but only the better ones survive. Currently well into its second season on television, CRIMINAL MINDS is definitely one of the better ones. Focusing primarily criminal activities perpetrated by repeat offenders such as serial killers, rapists, arsonists... etc, plus the occasional psychopath, CRIMINAL MINDS features the cases of a team of profilers from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, Virginia. On a weekly basis, the profiling team works assists local law enforcement agencies across the country to track down an UnSub (Unknown Subject Of An Investigation) by basically getting inside the criminal's head. Intelligently written and featuring sharp performances from all of the leading players, CRIMINAL MINDS stands out as a true highlight on the CBS primetime schedule.

The season one cast of CRIMINAL MINDS is as follows: Mandy Patinkin is the team's best profiler, Supervisory Special Agent Jason Gideon, who returns to the field after an extended sabbatical, which was related to his involvement in an incident that lead to the death of six agents. Thomas Gibson is team leader Supervisory Special Agent Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner, who tries (sometimes unsuccessfully) to balance his professional and personal lives. Shemar Moore is Senior Special Agent Derek Morgan, who grew up on the mean streets and survived to become an expert in obsessional crimes. Matthew Gray Gubler is Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid, the teamís resident genius with multiple PhDs, who specializes in statistical analysis, has the ability to read twenty thousand words per minute, in addition to spotting complex patterns. . Lola Glaudini is Elle Greenaway, a recent addition to the team with an expertise in sexual offense crimes. A.J. Cook is Special Agent Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, the only non-profiler on the team, who serves in the capacity of liaison between the team and local law enforcement, as well as the media. Kirsten Vangsness is FBI Audio/Visual Technician Penelope Garcia, a computer/technology expert, who works behind-the-scenes at the teamís headquarters in Quantico, Virginia.

CRIMINAL MINDS: THE FIRST SEASON ($65) comes to DVD in a six-disc set that features the twenty-two episodes that were aired in the showís freshman year. The twenty-two featured episodes are as follows: Extreme Aggressor, Compulsion, Won't Get Fooled Again, Plain Sight, Broken Mirror, L.D.S.K., The Fox, Natural Born Killer, Derailed, The Popular Kids, Blood Hungry, What Fresh Hell?, Poison, Riding The Lightning, Unfinished Business, The Tribe, A Real Rain, Somebody's Watching, Machismo, Charm And Harm, Secrets And Lies, The Fisher King Part 1.

CBS/Paramount Home Entertainment has made all of the episodes that comprise CRIMINAL MINDS: THE FIRST SEASON available on DVD in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that feature the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The episodes look damn good on DVD and always appear well above what is seen on a typical NTSC broadcast. Sharpness and detail are first rate for a television production, although that sometimes makes the visual effects a bit more obvious. Colors are rather well saturated, with realistic looking flesh tones. Blacks are deep, whites are clean and contrast remains fairly impressive for a TV drama, with the seriesí cinematography and lighting design being a cut above. Some grain is noticeable in place, but is never bothersome. Digital compression artifacts are usually well concealed.

All of the episodes that constitute CRIMINAL MINDS: THE FIRST SEASON come with Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. The sound mixes are beyond typical talky TV fare, but their origins to remain clearly evident. There are some nice channel separations and the outlying channels do get implemented reasonably well for a television level production. As expected, the forward soundstage is dominant, but only because the material doesnít lend itself too much beyond ambient sounds and musical fill being directed to the rears. Fidelity is excellent for this type of production; with the soundtracks have very good musical presence and there is a reasonably potent bottom end. Dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand. An English Dolby Surround track has also been provided, although no subtitles are included.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as some nice extras. Three episodes include running audio commentaries. Extreme Aggressor features comments by executive producer Mark Gordon, co-executive producer Deborah Spera and writer/creator/co-executive producer Jeff Davis. Derailed features comments by writer/executive producer Edward Allen Bernero, cinematographer Glenn Kershaw, director Felix Alcala, assistant director Ian Foster Woolf and visual effects supervisor Henrik R. Fett. Riding The Lightning features comments by Edward Allen Bernero, writer Simon Mirren, make-up artist Dayne Johnson, production designer Vincent Jefferds and director Chris Long. Deleted Scenes are included for the following episodes: Broken Mirror, Riding The Lightning and Unfinished Business. The self-explanatory The Making of Criminal Minds runs twenty-four minutes and is reasonably light on the fluff, so itís worth checking out. Inside Quantico & The Criminal Mind is a thirteen-minute program that features real FBI profilers. Meet Matthew Gray Gubler clocks in at fourteen minutes and serves as an introduction to the quirky actor.

As I stated above, CRIMINAL MINDS stands out as a true highlight on the CBS primetime schedule. CBS/Paramountís DVD set is first rate in regards to the presentations, and offers some nice extras. If you are a fan, CRIMINAL MINDS: THE FIRST SEASON is a must have, if you havenít seen the series, the DVD set is a great way to get acquainted. Recommended.



Criminal Minds - The First Season (2005)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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